How much does it cost to live comfortably in Singapore?
There are definitely many reasons why living in Singapore is great—superb healthcare and a world-class education system, just to name a few. But there are also several downsides, and one of them is the cost of living in this country.
So if you’re ever planning to live here, whether temporarily or permanently, there may be one question you keep thinking about: how much does it cost to live comfortably in Singapore?
To help you in this matter, here’s everything you need to know about the cost of living in Singapore—including the usual costs you need to prepare for and tips on how to make your income last longer.
What are the usual costs when living in Singapore?
Everyone has their own priorities when it comes to expenses. That said, the usual costs you can expect when living in Singapore are the following:
- Utility costs
- Travel and transportation
Housing in Singapore
One of the expenses you definitely have to prioritize when living in Singapore is housing. For this, you have two options: you can either rent a property or buy your own.
Renting Property in Singapore
If you’re new in Singapore, renting is the option you’ll most likely choose, and the cost for this highly depends on several factors. The two most prominent ones are the location and the type of property.
To give you an idea of how much rent in Singapore varies depending on the location and property type, refer to this table:
|Property||Estimated Price if in City Center (in SGD)||Estimated Price if Outside City Center (in SGD)|
|3-bedroom private apartment||7,865||5,173|
|3-bedroom condo unit||7,000–15,000||3,300–5,000|
|3-bedroom HDB flat (government housing flat)||3,000||2,200–2,700|
|Landed property (terraced houses, bungalows, etc.)||8,000–35,000 (depending on the size)||8,000–35,000 (depending on the size)|
From this table, you can make a general conclusion that renting a property becomes more expensive if it has more rooms and if it’s located in the city center.
Another factor that comes into play in the renting cost is the amenities. If the property you’re renting gives you access to extra amenities, such as a swimming pool and a gym, chances are you’ll be paying a much higher rent.
Buying Property in Singapore
If you’ve lived in Singapore long enough and are now a permanent resident or a citizen, you might start thinking about getting a house loan and buying your own property.
Just like renting costs, property prices in Singapore depend greatly on location, property type, and size. Here’s a table that shows a rough estimate of how much a property costs, depending on its type and number of rooms.
|Property Type||Size/Number of Rooms||Average Listing Price (in SGD)|
|Landed property||Terraced house||3,168,077|
Keep in mind that location isn’t factored in the prices above. When you consider the property’s location, its price will definitely fluctuate.
For example, if you want to buy a landed property in Sentosa, you’ll discover that most properties there will fetch at least 25 million SGD.
But if you were to purchase a two-bedroom HDB apartment in Ang Mo Kio, you’ll only have to pay around 200,000 SGD.
Utility Costs in Singapore
Once you have a place to live, the second priority expense is utility. Since Singapore has limited resources, utility bills here tend to be higher than you expect.
To give you an idea of the usual utility costs in Singapore, here’s a breakdown of them.
Electricity, Water, and Gas Costs in Singapore
The costs for electricity, water, and gas are heavily reliant on two primary factors: the size of the property and the amount of usage. The range for electricity, water, and gas bills is between 200 SGD and 600 SGD.
If you have a gas supply in your property, then there’s a chance you don’t have to pay quite a high amount. Meanwhile, your bill might be a lot higher during the summer because the hot weather will compel you to use the air conditioning more often.
Internet, Cable, and Phone Subscription Costs in Singapore
Phone subscription costs in Singapore tend to range between 35 SGD and 100 SGD, depending on the telco provider of your chosen postpaid plan. The actual price will also depend on whether you’ve selected a sim-only plan or one that includes the phone too.
For an Internet connection, you’ll likely have to pay around 50 SGD a month, but that could be higher if you want a faster speed.
If you want to subscribe to a cable service, you can find a plan that costs 28 SGD and only has primary cable channels. If you want more international and HD channels, the monthly cost will be between 50 SGD and 80 SGD.
Grocery Costs in Singapore
Luckily, in Singapore, fresh food and local goods are affordable, especially when you buy them at local supermarkets. Because of this, Singaporeans tend to purchase local goods over imported Western products.
Here’s a comprehensive list of the prices of the most commonly purchased groceries in Singapore:
|Product||Average Price (in SGD)|
|Milk (regular, 1 liter)||3.36|
|1 loaf of fresh white bread (500 g)||2.65|
|White rice (1 kg)||3.43|
|1 dozen of eggs||3.77|
|Chicken fillets (1 kg)||11.65|
|Beef round (1 kg)||25.54|
|Apples (1 kg)||4.95|
|Banana (1 kg)||3.47|
|Oranges (1 kg)||4.96|
|Tomato (1 kg)||3.85|
|Potato (1 kg)||2.97|
|Onion (1 kg)||2.9|
|1 head of lettuce||2.52|
|Water (1.5 l)||2.1|
Education Costs in Singapore
Singapore’s education system is one of the country’s highlights, so it’s no surprise that the government ensures that the schools here are of the best quality. This also means that tuition fees here tend to be higher.
Here’s a rough overview of how much local government and international schools cost every month!
Local Government School Fees in Singapore
Here’s a look at the monthly costs of local schools in Singapore.
|Level||Cost for Singaporean Citizens||Cost for Permanent Residents|
|Primary Education||Free||205 SGD|
|Secondary||5 SGD||380 SGD|
Generally speaking, education in Singapore is divided into two: primary and secondary schools. Primary school lasts for six years, while secondary school is either four or five years, depending if you’re taking the GCE O Level exams or GCE N Level exams.
After secondary school, students can apply for a tertiary institution to further their education.
Singaporean citizens and permanent residents take up the majority of the population in local government schools. That said, children of expats can attend them as well.
International School Fees in Singapore
International schools are the institutions of choice for expats in Singapore. The annual range for their tuition fees is somewhere between 12,000 SGD and 30,000 SGD, but this could vary, depending on the school and where the student is from.
If divided per month, here are the estimated costs of enrolling a child in an international school in Singapore.
|Level||Cost for International Students from ASEAN Countries||Cost for International Students from Non-ASEAN Countries|
|Primary||465 SGD||456 SGD|
|Secondary||780 SGD||1,400 SGD|
Healthcare Costs in Singapore
Just like Singapore’s education system, its healthcare system has been regarded as one of the best in the world. Healthcare facilities here—public and private alike—boast state-of-the-art medical technology, which is why your bills won’t be cheap.
Here are some general healthcare costs to keep in mind.
|Healthcare Service||Average Cost (in SGD)|
|General practitioner consultation fee||40|
|Specialist’s consultation fee||75–125|
|Non-air-conditioned ward fees||30|
Here’s another table showing the estimated costs of several serious treatments in both public and private hospitals.
|Treatment||Private Hospital||Public Hospital|
|Head injury||3,355–7,328 SGD||1,1512,159 SGD|
|Respiratory infections or inflammations with complications||8,816–22,970 SGD||2,866–7,012 SGD|
|Brain stroke with complications||3,760–8,970 SGD||3,718–7,424 SGD|
|Kidney failure with complications||5,946–20,975 SGD||2,700–7,002 SGD|
|Emergency expansion of blocked heart vessels||37,075–49,230 SGD||16,053–25,863 SGD|
As you can see from this table, your hospital bills will likely rack up if you don’t have financial help.
Luckily, there are ways to get medical subsidies in Singapore. Singaporean citizens and permanent residents will be eligible to apply for government-funded healthcare programs, while expats can purchase their own health insurance plan.
There are many health insurance providers with wide coverage in Singapore, and if you pick the right plan for you, you’ll find that you don’t have to pay thousands of Singaporean dollars for healthcare every year.
Travel and Transportation Costs in Singapore
If you commute for work or just generally like to travel around Singapore, then you’ll need to factor travel and transportation into your budget. The amount you’ll need to set aside for travel will depend on what’s your preferred mode of transportation.
Public Transportation Costs in Singapore
Fortunately for you, public transportation in Singapore is incredibly efficient and affordable. The one-way ticket for buses and MRT is around 2 SGD per person, so if you travel back and forth in one day, you’ll only have to pay 4 SGD.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s taxi services are also commendable. As of the time of writing, the base fee for taxis is 4 SGD, and for every kilometer, 1 SGD will be added.
Other fees will also be added to your taxi fare. These fees include location-based surcharges and airport fees.
Costs of Owning a Car in Singapore
Another way for you to get around Singapore is by owning a car. However, before you decide to purchase a vehicle here, do keep in mind that owning a car in Singapore is a lot more costly than you think.
This is because there are several fees and taxes added on top of the car’s market value. These extra costs include
- Road tax
- Car insurance
- Parking, ERP, and gasoline
If you do plan on buying a car in Singapore, consider all these costs so that you can save and budget more efficiently.
Recreation Costs in Singapore
Your recreation expenses will highly depend on what activities you like to do during your spare time.
If you don’t like going out a lot, you don’t have to worry about recreation expenses racking up. But if you do like shopping, going to bars, and the like, you have to include these potential expenses in your budget.
Here are some of the most common pastimes in Singapore and how much they typically cost.
- If you like working out, purchasing a gym subscription is going to cost you roughly 100 SGD a month.
- If you like watching movies, tickets are around 9 SGD on weekdays and 13 SGD on weekends. Tickets for IMAX and 3D will be more expensive.
- Karaoke rooms are around 25–35 SGD per person. This doesn’t include the food and drinks yet.
- Alcoholic drinks in bars usually cost around 10–15 SGD per bottle.
- If you like eating out, you can find many affordable food stalls and mid-range restaurants that cost around 60–80 SGD. If you’d like to dine in Michelin Star eateries, you can expect to pay a much higher price.
How much do you need to live comfortably in Singapore?
The amount you need to live comfortably in Singapore is highly dependent on many factors, but the general rule of thumb is the following:
- If you’re a single person in Singapore, you would need at least 2,000 SGD per month to live comfortably.
- If you live in a four-person household—including you, your partner, and two children—you would need a combined monthly income of at least 10,000 SGD.
These hypothetical amounts primarily take into consideration the typical expenses you might face. But they also leave you enough wiggle room to have savings every month.
If you’re aiming to have bigger savings or live in a high-end property in the city center, you would need more than the hypothetical monthly incomes mentioned above.
What’s the median monthly income in Singapore?
According to the Comprehensive Labor Force Survey, done by the Manpower Research and Statistics Department, the median monthly income of a full-time worker in Singapore is 5,070 SGD and 1,287 SGD for part-time.
To have a better look at how these numbers have changed throughout the years, please refer to the table below.
|Year||Median Monthly Income in SGD (Including Employer CPF)||Real Basic Wage Change|
How do you make your income last longer in Singapore?
Though it may seem that jobs in Singapore pay high wages, you need to remember that the inflation here is rising too. So you need to make your income last as long as possible in Singapore.
How do you do that? Here are a few tips you can follow to make your income last longer in Singapore.
- Make a budget plan and track your expenses.
- Choose energy-efficient appliances at home.
- Lock in your mortgage.
- Get rid of non-compulsory expenses.
Make a budget plan and track your expenses
With so many expenses to think about, you’ll likely feel overwhelmed really fast. To avoid this from happening, you should keep a finance journal.
This journal could be in the form of an actual journal notebook, an Excel sheet, or an app.
It’s in this journal where you’ll note down all your expenses for every month. Tracking your expenses should let you identify spending patterns, which will then help you make budget plans that you can stick to.
Choose energy-efficient appliances at home
As you’ve seen from the usual costs in the first part of this article, electricity is one of the biggest expenses in Singapore. So if you really want to cut back on your bills, you need to be mindful of what appliances you’re using.
One thing you can do is choose energy-efficient appliances with higher energy ratings at home. These appliances can be found in many shops, so you should think about investing in them—both for the environment’s sake and yours.
Lock in your mortgage
Housing is another one that makes up most people’s expenses in Singapore. Rent costs are definitely high here, but mortgage rates are even higher.
In fact, it’s reported that mortgage rates in Singapore might cross a 20-year high of 5% per year, which means you’d have to set aside an even bigger chunk for housing from your income.
To avoid paying high mortgage rates, you should lock in yours using a fixed-rate package—if it’s possible. Doing so will stop your mortgage from increasing astronomically in the future.
Get rid of non-compulsory expenses
All of us have our fair share of non-compulsory expenses. It could be subscriptions to streaming services or a monthly gym subscription.
If you’re tight on money right now and you really need to save, then one thing you can do is take a look at your list of expenses and weed out the services and subscriptions that you’re not currently using.
You’ll be surprised to see just how much money you can save when you do this. And don’t worry—you can always come back to these services and subscriptions when you’ve saved enough in the future.
Don’t miss out on high-interest savings accounts
To make sure that you won’t spend the money you’re planning to save, you should have a separate account for your savings. And to make things better, consider going for a savings account with a high interest.
Essentially, if your savings account has a high interest, the money you’ve set aside will grow the more you keep it. So in the end, you’ll be able to save more—it’s a win-win situation.
High-interest savings accounts are actually a lot more common than you think. Banks tend to offer them frequently to attract more customer deposits, so be on the look out for one.